Too much content? I’m getting mixed signals.

Many view institutional social media accounts as the central hub to see exactly what’s happening on campus; past, present, and future. There’s constant debate over what content is “Facebook worthy” or should be live-tweeted throughout the event, but what happens when you have too much content?

Too much content sounds like the best problem to have, but when the messages conflict with each other, it’s tough to wrap your brain around what goes where and what best represents the institution.

The backstory

It’s important to know some key phrases and events that resonate with the Skidmore College community:

ACDs: Accepted Candidates Days. Just like it sounds, a day of fun and welcome for our incoming class. The day is packed with tours, panels, food and smiling students on the edge of committing to Skidmore.

Discovery Tour: An opportunity for underrepresented students to visit Skidmore, stay overnight with a current Skidmore student and have a more intimate visit on campus.

Freirich Business Plan Competition: Slowly becoming a tradition at Skidmore, the competition fosters a spirit of entrepreneurialism, awarding $60,000 in prizes such as startup capital, mentorship and marketing plans to the winning team after what could be years of preparation. Students present their business plans in two rounds, the first determining the finalists, then the final presentation. Between the two events, student teams are paired with alumni mentors who can guide them to victory.

The problem

On March 26, 2016, it was announced that David Porter, Skidmore’s fifth president, had passed away. Porter was a fixture on campus not only during his time as president, but long after. He often performed on campus, and even served as a professor, retiring in 2013. Our community mourned his passing, and the comments of love and support for his family poured in over social media from alumni of all ages and community members.

The community began to move on, as it does after a passing, and the Communications and Marketing staff were in their weekly meeting, less than a week after the announcement. “The memorial for David Porter has been scheduled for April 8th,” announced our vice president. I immediately thought to myself, “that’s the same day as the Freirich finals,” as Daniella Nordin, digital engagement manager, whispered to me, “that’s the same day as ACDs and Discovery.”

Oh no.

Four events, four very different messages. One day.

The planning

Two people “touch” social media directly; myself (the social media assistant) and Daniella as digital engagement manager. Even between our two brains, we had to pull in the troops.

We met with the marketing director and the vice president of communications and marketing to talk about the messaging for each event individually. This helped the two of us have a better handle on social media and content strategy for each event. ACDs and Discovery fit easily across all social media channels, with as-live-as-we-can tweeting and Instagram updates. The Freirich Competition fit well on Twitter, as well, and all three could be posted in our Snapchat story.

The memorial for David Porter was not as easy to place, considering the upbeat tone of the day. Of course we wanted to recognize the event taking place on campus, but weren’t sure the best way to do so, especially considering the welcome and excitement messaging we had been planning for earlier that day. Ultimately, we all decided to limit the messaging to one post before the event on Facebook and Twitter, and one post following, as a news story would be written and shared on the Skidmore College website.

Screen Shot 2016-04-08 at 4.42.04 PMAfter the meeting, Daniella and I created a posting schedule and doled out responsibility between us and our two student workers. We looked at the schedule for the day for each event, and then mapped the content in a similar fashion, to be sure our messaging was consistent.

The day

It was all hands on deck, all day for us, but we made it through. We don’t anticipate having a too-much-content problem like this again, but there were a few takeaways, and things we would do differently in the future.

Be sure everyone is in the loop. Some of our messaging, especially involving the memorial service, depended on “stuff” from other people (website, stories, approved content, video, etc.), and we found ourselves coming up short when the day arrived. We improvised the messaging and stuck with our schedule, but it would have helped to have those things in place beforehand.

Choose one responder. We decided to have only one person “in charge” of responding/listening on all channels. This ensured that nothing was missed, or double-responded to (awkward). It also made it easier on those who were “covering” events to focus on what was going on in that moment, rather than juggling the action and the responses at the same time.

Test your wifi for Facebook Live Streaming. We had never attempted a live stream before with the new feature, and we should have. We hooked on to our secure network, but when we hit “go live,” our connection was too weak. We switched to LTE, but still had some issues. Overall, the stream went well, but the on-and-off of the thing started to kill the “live” mood. We promoted the “event” beforehand in our Class of 2020 group, and had a total of 508 unique viewers, maxing out at 80 viewers at one given time. We hovered around 60 to 65 viewers throughout the course of the 45-minute event, which isn’t too shabby for 10:30 a.m. on a Friday!

Don’t always stick to the schedule. We had our posting schedule ready to go, but of course, moments arose that fit perfectly on different channels. We took them, and don’t regret it for a second.

President Glotzbach welcomes accepted students from the Skidmore class of 2020! #skidmore2020

A photo posted by Skidmore College (@skidmorecollege) on